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Thin-set for Tile...Do's and Don'ts

Awesome Tips with Sal DiBlasi

As Seen On
Thinset for Tile

What’s the best way to apply thin-set for tile?

Today you’ll learn perhaps some of the most important tips ever when it comes to setting tile.

Sal DiBlasi, who’s been a tile setter for over 32 years, is going to give you great tips. Sal and I partnered on today’s tutorial because there’s nothing worse than seeing failed tile jobs.

If you don’t properly set tile in thin-set it could fall off the wall, mold could build up behind the tile and you might have to redo your tile.

Needless to say, we think our tutorial is a must for anyone tiling a bathroom.

Getting Started…Choose the Correct Trowel

What type of trowel should you use when tiling?

Well, most of the time that will be dictated by the size of tile.

Choosing an undersized trowel will lead to poor bonding between the tile and substrate.

For example, in the picture below I’m holding a KERDI trowel on the left. It has 1/8 inch by 1/8 inch square notches.

Trowel Size

You would never EVER use this trowel to set tile. It’s only meant to install KERDI or KERDI-BOARD.

The trowel on the right is a 1/4 inch by 3/8 inch by 1/4 inch square notched trowel. This kind of trowel is more suitable for setting certain tiles in thin-set.

Watch Sal’s video on how to pick a trowel…it’s pretty awesome.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Thin-set for Tile

Sal and I love YouTube.

We both enjoy teaching and that’s why we make videos.

But there’s also a lot of garbage on the internet. Especially when it comes to tile setting.

One of the biggest problems is seeing folks incorrectly set tile in thin-set.

Here are some BIG Don’ts

  1. Globs of thin-set on tile or substrates
  2. Inadequate trowel size for the tile
  3. Circular application of thin-set to tile or substrate
  4. Not adhering to TCNA (Tile Council of North America) Guidelines
  5. Improper back buttering

We tackle all these Don’ts in our video and then share the proper way to apply thin-set.

Sal and I encourage you to watch this video before setting tile


What’s Next

If you’re looking for more tiling tips I encourage you to subscribe to Sal’s YouTube channel.

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and want to simplify the process enroll into the Bathroom Repair Tutor Video Library

We show how to build showers (Schluter, Wedi, Curbless, etc.), install tile, upgrade basement bathrooms, and more.

The extra guidance is invaluable

Enroll Today


Jeff Patterson





  1. Larry says:

    Hey Guys
    I’ve laid a fair amount of tile and seen many ways to do it. The directional troweling, as you showed it, will help many tile jobs last longer. Kudos to you for explaining the method and it’s purpose.

    1. Jeff says:

      Thanks Larry, Sal and I hope to make more videos to clear the air on technique. Sal is the Yoda of tile and I’m honored to be working with him. Let us know what videos you think we should make 👍

  2. Brad says:

    Regarding directional troweling, the video starts by stating that back buttering is not necessary. You then walk through a progression of tests that include back buttering with the flat side of the trowel and then the notched side. Which do you recommend? They both seemed to provide adequate coverage, but it would seem the notched side would add to the thickness of the installation more so than the smooth side which would seem significant with large format tile.

  3. fred says:

    is applying a new coat of thin set on top of previously applied thin set (a day before but now partially or totally now dried) for tiling a porcelain tile be sufficient to adhere the tile to the wall?

  4. Mike says:

    Hi Jeff – I’m planning to put tile around a porcelain shower. I don’t believe the builder used water resistant drywall when installing the shower. Should I replace with either water resistant drywall or cement drywall? How important is this? Thank you!

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